Editing is a tremendously important part of cinema, but it can often go unsung in part because the many decisions that go into a successful edit can’t always be easily summarized or described. In fact there are many who will argue that the most successful editing is the editing you don’t notice. As such, this is probably an award that needs to be taken with a bit of a grain of salt, but I think I’ve found some worthy nominees.
- Captain Phillips: I’ve long admired the editing in Paul Greengrass’ films, and Captain Phillips is no exception. Well maybe it is. Greengrass style remained almost entirely unchanged and yet you almost never heard anyone complaining about disorientation like they did for some of his other movies. That’s because Greengrass has found a way to make his style more accessible without really sacrificing immediacy.
- Like Someone in Love: Most of the films that get honored for their editing focus in on elaborate set pieces, but some of the best editing shows up in movies like Abbas Kiarostimai’s Like Someone in Love, which makes a number of unconventional decisions which establish a tone and rhythm that are unique to the film. His edits here are playful, but also somewhat calming and almost zen-like up until its crazy final shot.
- Man of Steel: Superman is of course faster than a speeding bullet, and that means that the film’s editors needed to keep up with him. Bringing sense and logic to Zack Snyder’s extravagant action scenes could not have been easy, but I think they pulled it off really well. The film’s editing also helps to integrate a cool flashback structure which gives flashes of Kent’s childhood while keeping the main story moving.
- To the Wonder: In 2011 the film The Tree of Life won the Golden Stake for best editing without too much trouble. To the Wonder is in many ways a follow up to that film and it maintains it innovative editing style. There’s less of a tricky chronology this time around, but the editing team still manages to cut between Terrence Malick’s beautiful shots very effectively.
- The Wolf of Wall Street: Thelma Schoonmaker is a legend in her field and with The Wolf of Wall Street she has done another lights out editing job along with her longtime collaborator Martin Scorsese. Here she manages to make Scorsese’s dense profile of Wall Street decadence. The editing is fast and daring, but never distracting or overdone.